Are You Paying the Iron Price?

Face it, the majority of people don’t want new.

They might want the latest (the latest car, the latest computer, the latest gadget), but not new.

New, by it’s nature, is unnatural.

It doesn't exist yet.

It has no track record.

Which means the entrepreneur has a problem.

Entrepreneurs are idea insurgents - they bring new to the table (and disrupt everything else in the process – including our comfort levels).

That’s why it’s so hard for the entrepreneur to sell a new product, or break into a new market, or build a reputation quickly…

Because the majority of people distrust new.

But they trust the opinion of others.

Which means the only way for the entrepreneur to survive is to gain a foothold within a niche, give their product or service the room, exposure and chance to over-deliver, and then hope this group of early adopters can influence the masses.

In other words:

The entrepreneur must start by building trust on the fringe.

This isn’t a new concept – it’s been explored in great depth by authors like Malcolm Gladwell in The Tipping Point, Seth Godin in Unleashing the Idea Virus, and hundreds of other authors, artists and entrepreneurs who have revolutionized industries over the past decade.

So while the concept isn’t new, it is urgent.

The noisy internet is getting noisier.  Busy customers are getting busier.  And every day that goes by is one day less you could be building trust on the fringe.

In Game of Thrones, the northern island tribes live by the principle: “pay the iron price.”

It means they don’t use gold to pay for ships, cities or positions of power.  If they want something, they take it by conquering it. They take it the hard way; no shortcuts.

They pay the iron price.

As an entrepreneur, you have to pay the iron price too.

You can’t use money to pay for trust, attention, or respect  – you have to earn it.

No amount of money spent on advertising will do your job for you, nor can you outsource the hard decisions.

Your job is to do the hard, creative work to gain a foothold in a niche, and to give your product or service the opportunity to over-deliver.

This means building trust, one day at a time, one interaction at a time, one person at a time.

This means paying the iron price. 

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6 comments on “Are You Paying the Iron Price?”

  1. Good morning from LAX Tom.

    "the only way for the entrepreneur to survive is to gain a foothold within a niche" - This is so true, especially for people who don't have an initial platform to build from. Many entrepreneurs have had past businesses that they can leverage, celebrities have their fame, Athletes have their fans but for most of us "Creators" out there we have our idea and our idea only. We must gain that initial foothold and FIGHT, FIGHT, FIGHT to honor, recognize and reward if at all possible our early adopters.

    I like the idea of "Paying the iron price", it's your depth of skin in the game.

    Have an awesome day.

    1. Alan, totally agree.

      There's also power in knowing that as you get a deeper foothold, momentum builds and you have the power of compounding interest on your side (one connect leads to another, one speaking engagement to another bigger gig, one big sale to another bigger sale, etc). For those of us in the trenches, this should be a comforting thought (things get easier over time the more we work at them). And yes, I'm a huge proponent of rewarding early adopters. I don't think there's a way around that if you're bootstrapping a project.

      Great thoughts as always, Alan!

      - Tom

  2. Wow, the Iron Price. Strong words captain highlighting the truth that we must chisel our way in to niche acceptance on the way to authority. This post lights a fire.